Strikers played a more transformative role during the progressive era. The strikers were the face of grievances facing workers. They gathered and fought for the rights they thought they deserved. They were able to accomplish demands that had plagued their lives for years. Without the use of striking or unionized assemblies, a push for rights would have been lost in the aggressive and influential employers. The reformers and push to give workers’ rights came about from the loud voice of strikes. The Anthracite Industry is one such unionized group that transformed the work of miners. The Shirtwaist factory workers is another group of strikers that helps prove that strikers played a more transformative role. These two groups embody the spirit of transformation towards a better working life. Anthracite coal mining consisted of differing levels of skill and precision that could be lucrative depending upon the miner’s luck. A coal miner would be lucky to find steady employment, or to even survive to the day’s end. The procedures involved in preparing the coal from the mines to the shipping was filled with dangers that led the “industry” as “one of the world’s most hazardous.” Mine owners to maintain “overhead costs” and keep mine workers in the industry, would tactfully engage in underemployment. This left workers in state of constant need for more work, or higher wages to offset working part-time. These Anthracite miners were largely paid more than the average miner, but
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Workers became “more numerous, better organized, more disciplined, and more successful” even though employers tried to stop them (Who Built America 113). Many of these workers led strikes for better hours, better wages and better conditions. When comparing the 1800s to today, we see that strikes were very effective, an example of this is shown in the 8-hour movement. Unions helped win “more than 60 percent of the strikes waged in 1889 and 1890” (Who Built America 113). Due to these workers, employees now face fewer obstacles. Whenever workers felt as though they were being taken advantage of they could “refuse to work, if they withdraw their cooperation, every social institution can be brought to a halt” (Brecher 5). Without workers, the employers will have no one to complete products therefore not being able to make a profit. Subsequently, employees will have leverage over the employers so they can finally sit down and negotiate their conditions. This was shown in the Michigan Central Railroad where workers fought for their wages to increase by two dollars. The workers exhibited their resistance when “streetcars, wagons, and buggies were stopped; tanneries, stoneworks, clothing factories, lumberyards, brickyards, furniture factories, and a large distillery was closed in response to roving crowds” (Brecher 31). The result of this strike was “victorious, and 2 dollars a day became the standard wage in Galveston” (Brecher 31). This strike was important because it exhibited to others that if they unite then they can achieve better conditions. If the workers did not unionize they would not have achieved equality in the workforce and better wages and conditions. Without resistance, these workers would have never gotten negotiations or the necessities they need. Even if workers lost because of outside interference they eventually had the power to change the minds of
In the first half of the 19th Century the working class in the newly industrializing American society suffered many forms of exploitation. The working class of the mid-nineteenth century, with constant oppression by the capitalist and by the division between class, race, and ethnicity, made it difficult to form solidarity. After years of oppression and exploitation by the ruling class, the working class struck back and briefly paralyzed American commerce. The strike, which only lasted a few weeks, was the spark needed to ignite a national revolt by the working class with the most violent labor upheavals of the century.
The workforce constituted mainly of immigrants. Well-connected railway networks allowed the United Mine workers of America to bring immigrants to Colorado. It surely proved to be cost-effective for the company. The migrant workers were paid too poorly for them to be able to sustain their families. Miners were forced to work 10-12 hours a day. “Mine work seemed to turn boys into drones, women into men, and manly laborers into an inferior class of beings.”The company employed women and children in arduous working conditions with inadequate pay, compromising their health and well being. This in turn reduced the wages of the miners as they became easily replaceable.
Because of the rising change of social and industry they kind of caused friction towards political views. Miners and steelworkers were the first workers to use the strike ad a bargaining tool against their business owners.
In the late 1800s and the early 1900s, labor was anything but easy. Factory workers faced long hours, low pay, high unemployment fears, and poor working conditions during this time. Life today is much easier in comparison to the late 1800s. Americans have shorter days, bigger pay and easier working conditions. Not comparable to how life is today, many riots sparked, and citizens began to fight for equal treatment. Along with other important events, the Haymarket Riot, the Pullman Strike, and the Homestead strike all play a vital role in illustrating labor’s struggle to gain fair and equitable treatment during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The ensuing conflict, between labor vs. capital, during the late 1800s initiated a struggle of power in the workforce between the rich-industrialists (or corporate leaders) and the middle-class/lower-class workers. The Capitalists had intervened with the protests orchestrated by the workers, ensuring that the power remains with them. The strategies of the industrialists and the unique ways of protesting from the workers, contributes to spur a vigorous argument between the employers and their employees. The workers tried their best to ameliorate their working conditions by forming numerous unions, trying to fix currency (gold to paper) to economically help themselves, refusing to go to work, resorting to violence and non-violence, etc. However, the Corporate leaders kept an upper hand and dissolved the workers’ ambitions by hiring scabs, creating a strong relationship with the military (Pullman strike), controlling and fixing policies at work, hiring immigrants for cheap labor, etc. Throughout the late 1800s, the corporate leaders have been able to successfully prevent workers who had resorted to: forming unions, protests (ex. Pullman strike and Homestead strike), violence (ex. Haymarket Sq. Riot), etc., from achieving a radical solution to the workers issues with the management by using several different strategies including but not limited to: hiring scabs/immigrants in the Homestead strike, using government support in the Pullman strike and keeping the power on their side
The Labor Movement’s number one concern is to address problems associated with social inequality. The labor movement was created in order to fight for the rights of labor workers. The goal was to have better wages, safe working conditions, and reasonable working hours. Unions were formed in order to achieve this. However, this was always enough. Workers reached a point where they came together and participated in strikes which the main goal was to have their employers listen to them and come to an agreement.
The general strike of May 1926 was not a success for those attempting to force the government to act to prevent wage reductions and worsening conditions for coal miners. Had the TUC been more prepared to strike and followed through with what the miners wanted them to do, the government would have been faced with a much tougher challenge. Despite this, even if the conservative government were faced with a tougher challenge, the preparations and subsequence actions taken by them were more than enough and the main reason for the failure of the strike.
Progressivism is a political movement and what it caused was rights that everyone deserved. Strikes happened because there were no rights to protect and make employees comfortable in their working environment. Progressive reform on the other hand made it so Capitalists could no longer suppress the problems that they produced. These unimaginable injustices toward the people by capitalists and government is what really sparked the progressive reform movement and lead to things like strikes. Desperation for change became critical in the new progressive era. John Spargo, a progressive muckraker and an active socialist, focused his reform efforts on improving lives of poor children. A quote from a book he wrote in 1908 advocated government controls over the distribution and pasteurization of milk to protect the health of babies and children. What spargo said in this quote was “...plea for action; to waken...dormant and neglected powers and impulses...need to be called into active cooperation in order that evils may be remedied.”(doc 4) Spargo, like many other Americans, wished to fix ills and asked for action to change the way of life for the better. This shows how
The labor relations movement has been one of the most successful driving forces behind such efforts as: providing aid to workers who were injured or retired, better health benefits and to stop the practice of child labor in the workforce. Ostensibly, unions in the United States arose out of the need to better protect the “common interests” of laborers. Today, many of the social movements and alliances forged are created under the guise to better protect the employer from a plethora of interests made against the organization, rather than, increasing wages, improving reasonable employment hours and/or enhancing work conditions.
Between the years 1870-1900, Americans began to respond to the effects fostered by these corporations. From urban factory workers to rural farmers, Americans began to organize against these big businesses. With mass industrialization, more job’s were made available to women, these jobs were often in factories with terrible conditions, sweatshops. There was a sameness about working in mass production factories. Thus, working in these modern mass production factories created a homogenous environment that diminished individualism and the need for skilled workers. (Doc. C) Strikers were common during this era, workers participated in strikes and joined labor unions, such as The American Federation of Labor and the Knights of Labor, due to the terrible working conditions. The American Federation of Labor, headed by Samuel Gompers, was specifically for skilled workers and argued for better wages and a reduction in working hours. (Doc. G) Although urban workers were greatly impacted by the growth of these corporations, they were not the ones. Farmers, suffered
Despite being able to cause a small improvement in workers’ pay and hours, labor unions ultimately died out by the 1900s due to their methods. Unable to truly focus on the plight of skilled workers, most labor unions instead focused on that of unskilled workers, pushing aside the skilled workers. (Doc D). The actions of labor unions ended up being counterproductive, forcing companies to wage war against the labor unions. These stricter contracts such as that of Western Union Telegraph Company, forced workers to affiliate themselves against labor unions. (Doc E) One important thing to note is that the workers’ rights advocates were never able to coincide on one factor. As evidenced in an illustration in 1887, labor unions had to compete with other movements such as socialism, anarchism, and other labor unions. (Doc F). Because of this, the media, although recognizing the labor union movement, began viewing the labor unions as dangerous entities. Although the initial strikes such as the Wabash strike were successful, the ones that followed proved detrimental to the movement, and caused the steady decline of the labor unions. Because some of the strikes were dangerous, many strikes resulted in the deaths of those involved, such as the Homestead Crisis, and Pinkerton (Doc G). Combined with events such as the Wildcat strike, Haymarket strike, the Pullman Strike, the public began to associate a negative
In labor as in all things there is strength in numbers it is this strength that American labor unions provide. Labor unions provide a collective voice for those who had not previously been heard. As the professor in the “Frustrated Labor Historian” Dr. Horace P. Karastan is left with the dilemma what are the three most important events in American labor union history it would be difficult to choose with so many important moments. There are however several events that stand out as being turning points in giving employees unquestionable protections. The Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932 allowing employees the right to organize. Further the Wagner Act protecting employees from reprisal from employers for organizing spurring the growth of unionization. The Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959 building on the Wagner Act as well as the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 which granted protections from the unions. It is these Acts that have changed the landscape of American labor union history and leave us with the unions that we have today.
During the time period 1875 to 1900, the labor unions failed miserably in their efforts to amend the working conditions their workers were under. During the 19th century, the Second Industrial Revolution and The Gilded Age were taking place. These were transmuting the way society was viewed and how people lived their everyday lives. During the labor movement, there were many different organizations and groups that advocated change. Two of those specific groups were the Knights of Labor and American Federation of Labor. The failure of those labor unions between 1875 and 1900 in the U.S. was mostly due to the union's actions, followed by problems within the unions, and people's response to the union.
Two years after the infamous Triangle fire, 20,000 workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts; angered over wage cuts and deplorable conditions went on strike, prompting the twin reactions of police brutality and press coverage (Hodson & Sullivan, 2008). “As a result of the strike, not only were wages raised and conditions improved in the textile industry as a whole, but important legislation was also enacted that restricted the exploitation of child and female labor” (Hodson & Sullivan, 2008, p. 132). It is doubtful that working conditions would have evolved to the level of equity we find today, without the sacrifice and activism of unions and their members.